Noelle studied clinical speech and language studies at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in June 2007.
Like so many others she wasn’t immediately convinced by her chosen career path and so embarked on year of travel – primarily in Africa. She took an opportunity to volunteer in a home for abandoned children with disabilities in Nigeria. Her time in Africa led her to London to complete a masters in cross-cultural studies in child, child development studies.
Noelle says: “Constructive procrastination is what I call these two years of my life. On the one hand I was rejecting the mainstream career path for my profession but in reality I was acquiring so many skills that are so important for my work now. The ability to look at every situation as being multifaceted, to be both culturally and socially sensitive to each individual’s understanding of disability and to never treat two children as if they are the same.”
When she’d completed her masters degree she was asked by Caroline deFina, now head of BAC, to join one of her teams. “I had no knowledge of ABA, but the intensive one to one work, and the specifically tailored programmes appealed to me. So began my never ending learning process, ” she says.
The mention of Applied Behavioural Analysis among parents, therapist and carers results in a spectrum of response from shouts of praise to a barrage of criticism. ABA has a history of disapproval among parents and professionals alike. Noelle says that for her, ABA is a functional, practical and constructive method of empowering children and families with the skills for life. It is a means of unlocking a childs true potential.
“I have now been working with children with autism for three and a half years. Every day I am reminded of how much I have learned over this time and how much I still have to learn. I love that every day is different than the one before. And while there are times this terrifies me, I thoroughly enjoy that on a daily basis I have the possibility of having a positive impact on the lives of the children with whom I work, ” says Noelle.